Villarreal to give Barcelona guard of honour after Real Madrid refusal

Sid Lowe dispels the notion that Lionel Messi’s half-time conversation with the referee may have altered some of his calls in El Clasico.
Barcelona and Real Madrid battled to a 2-2 draw in a Clasico that saw tempers flare and Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale score brilliant goals.
Thousands of Barcelona fans lined the streets in Catalonia on Monday to celebrate the club’s 25th La Liga title and 30th Copa del Rey victory.
While Barcelona celebrate their La Liga and Copa del Rey titles, the FC crew assess whether their Champions League exit makes the season a failure.

Villarreal will give La Liga champions Barcelona the guard of honour rivals Real Madrid refused to provide before the Clasico at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Barca sealed the title when they beat Deportivo La Coruna on April 29, and it is a tradition in Spain for the new champions to be given a guard of honour by their next opponents.

Madrid did not do so, with Zinedine Zidane explaining that the decision had been taken because Barca set a precedent in December by not giving Madrid a guard of honour after their Club World Cup success.

Barca’s reason for not doing so was that they had not taken part in the same tournament.

But Villarreal have confirmed that they will provide a guard of honour when they visit Barca on Wednesday.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said Madrid’s refusal had not been “disrespectful,” but their decision rankled with some at the club.

Taking the microphone after the 2-2 draw with Madrid, defender Gerard Pique asked members of the club’s coaching and media staff to give the players a guard of honour as they left the pitch “because they [Madrid] didn’t.”

It will be the second guard of honour Barca have received in recent weeks, with Depor having performed one in recognition of their Copa del Rey triumph against Sevilla eight days earlier.

With three games left — Levante and Real Sociedad are also to come — Barcelona could become the first side ever to remain unbeaten through a 38-game campaign in Spain’s top flight.

Madrid (1932) and Athletic Bilbao (1930) have managed unbeaten campaigns, but both were compiled when a season lasted only 18 matches.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.